Back pain is a common problem. Reports suggest as many as eight out of ten of us will suffer from it at some point. Around 5.6 million working days in the UK are lost each year due to back pain, second only to stress.
Back pain can affect anyone at any age. It can often be the result of a sprain or a strain of the structures of the back such as the muscles, ligaments, joints or damage to the discs. Osteoarthritis or wear and tear in the back can be a reason.
Most of us know that back pain can be painful and inconvenient. It’s not usually serious and may resolve on its own within a few weeks. Many people seek osteopathic treatment to address the pain quickly and at a time and place of their own choice. Osteopaths are skilled at helping prevent back pain from becoming a chronic, long-term condition.
Back pain can be brought on by lifting, moving awkwardly or due to an accident. Sometimes it can come on without any specific injury to your back. Stress, depression, posture, being overweight, sedentary living and poor lifestyle habits can all be big factors.
People can feel a range of symptoms such as stiffness, tenderness and mild to very severe pain. The pain can come on quite fast or over time and be anywhere in the spine from the top of the neck to the pelvis. Sometimes pressure from the back on the nerves can cause pain or pins and needles and numbness in the legs and arms. X-rays, scans and other tests are sometimes required to make a diagnosis. If osteopathy treatment cannot completely heal or discover the cause of the back pain, your osteopath may refer you to your GP or a specialist for further investigation.
How can an Osteopath help with Back Pain?
- Osteopaths are well known for treating back pain and patients report high satisfaction with treatment. There is good quality evidence supporting the beneficial effects of manipulation for back pain. The National Institutes for Clinical Excellence recommends osteopathy for sub-acute and chronic low back pain.
- Osteopaths can use a wide range of gentle manual treatments depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis. We may gently massage the soft tissues of your back or rhythmically “rock” the joints to release tension. Sometimes we may gently manipulate the back to loosen the joints and you may hear a “click”.
- Treatment is different in every individual and sometimes it might involve treating other areas in the body such as the hips or neck.
- We may offer advice on your lifestyle, particularly if we feel something you are doing repetitively that could be part of the reason why you have back pain. We may offer advice on your posture, plus also give advice on diet and exercise.